Author Topic: Dice City: A Review  (Read 1159 times)

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Dice City: A Review
« on: November 03, 2017, 05:00:46 PM »
Dice City: A Review



A friend came round yesterday evening, and after a quick perusal of the current state of my boardgame shelves we decided to play Dice City. I remembered being very excited about getting this for my birthday last year but never quite managed to persuade my wife to play it with me, and had pretty much forgotten that I owned it despite taking it to Essen with me and even buying an expansion for it while I was there!

The setup took a little while longer than I'd been expecting as there were so many cards and tokens that had to be sorted out. I don't think it will be such a problem next time with a little bit of prior knowledge, but I think we both felt somewhat overwhelmed at first. Fortunately the rules were quite clear though, and once we'd set it up it didn't take long to get enough of a feel for what we were supposed to be doing to be able to start playing.


(left: the rulebook was followed very closely - hopefully we did everything properly! right: so many tokens... the top row shows the iron, wood and stone tokens; the star tokens on the next row represent immediate VP of varying values; and the third row shows the "pass" tokens and "deactivated" tokens used to show that a city location has been attacked and must first be repaired before it can be used again)

As the name suggests, Dice City is a dice-drafting game with a city-building theme but there's much more to it than this, including plenty of difficult decisions to be made as the game progresses and you're forced to think more about what Victory Point building mechanisms you can best exploit with the engine you've created so far. In this respect it reminded me a lot of 7 Wonders in terms of focussing on generating resources (Wood, Stone and Iron) in the early part of the game so that you can afford to invest in different areas later on, thus bringing the strategic element to life.

In the game, each player has a playing mat/ city which is split into 5 rows (each row corresponding to a particular colour dice: red, blue, yellow, black and white) and 6 columns (numbered 1 to 6). You roll all five dice at once and put them on the corresponding square of your city according to the colour of each dice and the number that you rolled. You then have five actions per turn (one for each dice), depending on where your dice have ended up, and what cards you might have in your city underneath the active dice. In our game this mostly involved gathering resources or building armies, but you can't carry more than one resource of each type into your next turn and your army strength is reset to zero at the end of each turn too. This means that making the most of each and every turn is critical if you want to do well...

To help make each turn more interesting and less luck-based, any individual dice can be adjusted horizontally (i.e. a 3 could be moved to either the 2 or the 4 column) but you must discard one of your other dice in order to do this. You can discard as many dice as you like in order to modify any other dice, but discarding 4 dice to modify your remaining dice from a 1 to a 5 for example, whilst within the rules would almost certainly be a bad idea! The other option you have is to exchange a dice for a "pass" token. You can only do this once per turn, but may spend pass tokens in pairs either to generate an extra resource of any type, increase your army strength by 1 or force an opponent to re-roll one of their dice.


(left: spot the dice in the wrong column! (I did this several times) right: the little quick reference guides were handy and frequently referred to in our first game)

Once your dice rolls have been resolved, there then follow the build and attack phases of your turn where you typically spend resources to buy new cards in the form of city locations or trade ships, and/ or use the power of your army to attack locations within your opponent's city or kill bandits. Buying trade ships or killing bandits wins you immediate victory points which are kept face-down until the end of the game when they are totalled up and contribute to your final score. On the other hand, new city locations can be placed anywhere within your city and may contribute to future turns in a variety of different ways such as by increasing the number of resources that you can use on that turn, strengthening your army (for that turn), helping to defend your city against attacks from your opponent(s), generating immediate victory points (in the form of star tokens with 1 – 5 VP) or giving you other special abilities for that turn. City locations also have a certain defensive threshold which represent the size of the opposing army required to "deactivate" them. Deactivated locations have a special token placed on them, and must be reactivated before they can be used again.

In both games (we played two!) my strategy was determined mostly by how the early part of my game panned out and what seemed to work well for me. I acquired a watchtower in the first game which boosted my army strength by 3 if used to attack bandits, and I had a similar card which reduced the army strength required to defeat bandits. Although I made the tactical blunder of putting these both in the same row of my city (meaning they couldn't both be used at the same time) they were generally very difficult to ignore so I often resorted to fighting bandits and generated the majority of my VP from these cards. I had a number of other buildings in my city which generated a handful of VP towards my final score, but which I built more because they looked interesting than because I had cunning plans to use them effectively! Building wisely and looking out for powerful combinations of cards that can be used together was very reminiscent of Dominion; I've never been very good at Dominion! In the second game I seemed to go resource mad, and the vast majority of my overall score came from shipping tokens (I even managed to get the 20VP shipping token which costs 4 of each resource).


(left: There was a good supply of Quarry, Lumber Mill, Mine and Regular Army cards throughout the game, other buildings could be bought from the 8 face-up cards which were then replenished from the face-down deck right: Bandits and Trade Ships provided an alternative way of using up army points and/ or resources for immediate victory points)

The main downside to the game was that I didn't feel like there was a great deal of interaction between players. At times it felt a lot like playing Flip City against my wife in that it was almost like my friend and I were both sitting up at the same table playing two solo games independently of each other. Yes there are plenty of opportunities for interaction, but these didn't feel especially natural and there always seemed to be something more interesting/ productive to do with my dice. If I'd been feeling so inclined I could have wasted much of my turn at any point such that my opponent would have to waste part of his next turn to get straight again, but there was no real incentive for doing this rather than simply moving on with my own plan instead. Still, this said, I will hold my hands up and admit that maybe it was partly our own fault for not embracing that side of the game more enthusiastically. In our defence though, Quadropolis (another favourite game of mine) has a clever tile-drafting mechanic which provides a good amount of interaction between players in a natural and intuitive way, rather than occasionally seeming as though it had been bolted-on as an additional, optional component.

Overall I loved playing Dice City and am already looking forward to the next time I can get it to the table. For one thing I'm a sucker for city-building themes so I always knew it was going to be a hit, but the artwork is easy to enjoy and everything felt like it had been done to a high standard. Something else I liked were the core mechanics as these involved just the right amount of thinking in terms of establishing a) what I could do with my dice, and b) what my best option was. The various different city buildings certainly extend (and complicate) the possibilities in terms of what can be achieved, but trying to work out whether I could do what I wanted to on any particular turn, and how best to do it, certainly provided a lot of much-needed brain exercise!

Linkback: http://www.carcassonnecentral.com/community/index.php?topic=3615.0
« Last Edit: November 03, 2017, 05:04:26 PM by danisthirty »
Heroically snatching defeat from the jaws of victory since 2018

Offline Squiffything

  • Duke
  • *
  • Posts: 171
  • Merit: 21
  • Do I smell onions?
    • View Profile
Re: Dice City: A Review
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2017, 12:59:33 AM »
Good write up Dan. Is it just a two player game?
Oooo, look at all the meeples

Offline danisthirty

  • (well, 39 actually)
  • Administrator
  • Chatelain Grand Officier
  • *
  • Posts: 6546
  • Merit: 248
  • "First to 4 points wins?"
    • View Profile
Re: Dice City: A Review
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2017, 01:58:23 AM »
Thanks squiffything.

It plays up to 4, but I'm not convinced I'll have many opportunities to play against this many people...
« Last Edit: November 04, 2017, 02:04:41 AM by danisthirty »


Share via delicious Share via digg Share via facebook Share via furl Share via linkedin Share via myspace Share via reddit Share via stumble Share via technorati Share via twitter

  Subject / Started by Replies / Views Last post
xx
A Quick REVIEW and unboxing in Cervantes Togue! REVIEW EN ESPAÑOL de CARCASSONNE

Started by Luisjoey

0 Replies
655 Views
Last post November 14, 2019, 12:26:06 PM
by Luisjoey
xx
Dragon Dice

Started by TheSteveAllen

3 Replies
1920 Views
Last post July 06, 2019, 02:57:55 PM
by Meepledrone
xx
BUY : Carcassonne : The Dice game

Started by smoula

3 Replies
422 Views
Last post October 21, 2019, 01:06:19 AM
by Paul
xx
Carcassonne: The Dice Game

Started by danisthirty

16 Replies
7869 Views
Last post July 06, 2013, 07:04:02 AM
by Scott
exclamation
BAZAARS: 2 Player Rule change: Bid Modification w/DICE !!!

Started by DOCTORawfulMD

11 Replies
5623 Views
Last post February 11, 2014, 06:57:01 AM
by Paul